Friday, October 20, 2006

On Facts and Dragons: From Google's Blog Search to Reuters' Second Life

Around this time last year, when blog posts were still legitimate citizens of Google's Great Master Index, I happened to read a bunch of articles that were discussing the frustration of innocent users who have fallen prey to a horrible mischief, namely 'Blog noise'. Although they were googling for "facts", the returned result sets contained an awful lot of non factual, personal opinions from the blogosphere. "These weblogs are not facts" exclaimed one of the interviewees, "and they should be banned out of the main index". Another article went even further in its expressed hostility, with a subtitle of "Pollution Control" followed by a rhetoric question: "Sick of blog noise polluting the Google search results?"

"What a crap", I thought. "This has nothing to do with 'facts'; Do they really believe that "official" information is more factual than blog posts?"

Shortly afterwards, though, Google introduced Blog Search (Sep. '05), and since then "facts" are returned from the main index, while non factual, "personal opinions" are to be looked for under the subordinated, blog search index.

Can this categorization of knowledge keep up for a long time? I suspect it can't, and Second Life is a great catalyst for the removal of this artificial distinction between factual and non-factual, as can be seen from the latest Reuters-SL announcement.

Last week Reuters, a century-old company renowned for its real-time delivery of world facts, announced that Second Life is from now on an official news region, along with the other 196 regions that Reuters covers in RL (real life). From now on, ladies and gentlemen, you'll get ubiquitous, real-time information from both Nasdaq and the SL Currency Exchange; you'll get breaking news from both the middle-east and the middle-earth.

I assume that some Reuters' customers will rant about this new blend of real-world facts and metaverse' nonsense. "This is not serious", they'd say, or "It's nothing but a gimmick". But for the new generation of kids and teenagers, this news mashup will be the most logical and natural thing (and see the amazing story of Udi Bauman about his 3 years old son trying to drink a chocolate straight from the metaverse: "When he said he was thirsty, I offered to bring him his bottle, but saw that he wasn’t referring to the real world, rather just wanted to buy a glass of cocoa from one of the vending machines").


"I met a man the other day who did not believe in fairy tales", tells G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) in the opening of his witty, anecdotal and amazingly relevant story, "The Dragon's Grandmother".

Here's a short excerpt:

I broke out beyond control. "Man," I said, "who are you that you should not believe in fairy tales?" ...
Look at these plain, homely, practical words: 'The Dragon's Grandmother,' that is all right; that is rational almost to the verge of rationalism. If there was a dragon, he had a grandmother. But you--you had no grandmother! If you had known one, she would have taught you to love fairy tales.

Well, I hope this will leave you with a taste for more: G.K Chesterton, "The Dragon's Grandmother"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exquise nouvelle de Chesterton. Merci pour le lien "mordant" et la fraîcheur

11:14 PM  

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